Overview

Before India was divided, three teens, each from wildly different backgrounds, cross paths. And then, in one moment, their futures become irrevocably intertwined.

Tariq. Anupreet. Margaret. As different as their Muslim, Sikh, and British names. But in one moment, their futures become entirely dependent on one another's.

While the rest of India anxiously awaits the upcoming ...
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A Moment Comes

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Overview

Before India was divided, three teens, each from wildly different backgrounds, cross paths. And then, in one moment, their futures become irrevocably intertwined.

Tariq. Anupreet. Margaret. As different as their Muslim, Sikh, and British names. But in one moment, their futures become entirely dependent on one another's.

While the rest of India anxiously awaits the upcoming partition that will divide the country into two separate religious states, eighteen-year-old Tariq focuses on his own goal: to study at Oxford. But for a Muslim born and raised in India, there is no obvious path to England—until Tariq is offered a job translating for one of the British cartographers stationed in India, tasked with establishing the new borders.

Margaret, the cartographer’s daughter, has only just arrived in India. But already she has discovered it to be hot, loud, and dull. She can’t go anywhere alone for fear of the riots and violence. Eager for a distraction, she finds one in Tariq.

But it’s Anupreet, another member of the staff, who has truly captured Tariq’s eye. She’s strikingly beautiful—but she’s a Sikh, so not someone Tariq should even be caught looking at. And yet he’s compelled to…

Against the backdrop of the nearly forgotten history of the partition of India, Jennifer Bradbury, as if with strands of silk, weaves together the heart-pounding tale of three teenagers on wildly different paths, on the verge of changing each other’s lives forever.
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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—As India stands on the brink of partition, three young people's lives become increasingly entangled with the upheaval and violence that surround them: Margaret, a British cartographer's daughter; Tariq, a Muslim teenager employed in Margaret's household who dreams of studying at Oxford; and Anupreet, a young Sikh girl also employed by Margaret's family. Although initially resistant to living in India, Margaret is soon enraptured with the culture. Tariq captures the interest of both Margaret and Anupreet, even though a relationship with him would be disastrous for either girl. He is pressed to join his family in what will become Pakistan, and although Margaret's father discourages him, he is convinced that an Oxford education would be the best for his future. There are multiple narrators, but each character's story is defined and intertwines with the others' seamlessly. Historical background of postcolonial India is neatly inserted within the narrative, and market and street scenes teem with everyday life. The awkwardness the protagonists feel about interacting with one another is honestly and realistically drawn. Characters are fully fleshed out and are sympathetic in their struggles to find themselves within the new India. Back matter includes a glossary and an author's note detailing Bradbury's personal connection to India and a brief overview of the partition. As clashes continue between and within India and Pakistan, this title fills an important niche in YA historical fiction.—Jennifer Schultz, Fauquier County Public Library, Warrenton, VA
From the Publisher
"India, 1947: As Britain prepares to divide the country before leaving, three lives unexpectedly intersect.

The partition of India and Pakistan, based on a border drawn by British civil servants, rarely appears in Western literature, much less fiction for teens. Bradbury pens a careful, respectful—but fictionalized—account of the final days before the line between the countries was announced, recounting it in the voices of three teens. Impulsive, spoiled English Margaret may not be entirely likable, but her love for the strange country she finds herself in is wholly believable and makes her the perfect stand-in for the reader; through Margaret, India in this specific time comes to life, and hard questions about British culpability are asked. Much of Margaret’s complex relationship with India plays out through her growing friendship with Sikh Anupreet, who has been caught in the violence between Sikhs and Muslims already, and Muslim Tariq, who hopes Margaret’s father will be his ticket to Oxford since “[e]veryone listens to the men who have the right education from the right places.” Through Tariq’s and Anu’s voices additional complexities and context are provided. Bradbury’s research (detailed in an author’s note) infuses but never overwhelms the narrative; the lack of solid resolution for the characters suits a book about a violent and confusing time.

Historical fiction that brings its history to bloody, poignant life: rare and notable."

Children's Literature - Paula McMillen
Although set during the weeks preceding the partition of India into two countries in 1947, the conflicts based on belief systems that are tearing communities apart are all too familiar in contemporary times—Rwanda, Bosnia, and Iraq come to mind. Our three main characters are all young adults, each with their own aspirations that seem doomed by circumstances. Tariq, a Muslim, wants to leave India to attend Oxford rather than joining his family when they move to the new state of Pakistan. Anupreet, a Sikh, wants life to return to normal so she can go out of the house without being afraid of attack. Margaret has been dragged to India by her mother to get her away from an "inappropriate" American serviceman she was in love with. They all end up in the house being used by Margaret's father, a cartographer who is supposed to help define the boundaries of the new countries. Margaret is interested romantically in Tariq. Tariq is attracted to Anupreet—a forbidden connection because of the increasing hostility between Muslims and Sikhs. Tariq tries to tread a delicate middle ground that he hopes will help him get a sponsor for his bid to attend Oxford. Violence escalates as the deadline for partition approaches and no one is safe outside or even inside the house. This is an engaging story to introduce this historical era and give insight into contemporary affairs. Reviewer: Paula McMillen, Ph.D.
VOYA - Jane Gov
In 1947 India, A Moment Comes follows three teens whose lives become intertwined during the final days of the partition of India and Pakistan. Tariq, a Muslim determined to attend Oxford and to avoid being tangled in the riots, sees his chance when a British cartographer needs an assistant; through his point of view, as he tries to distance himself from some of his own people, the reader is directly in the heart of his desperation. Beautiful Sikh Anupreet, who has already been caught in the violence, is also brought to work in the household; through her eyes, the reader sees fear, uncertainty, and hope of safety. Because of a scandal back in England, spoiled and impulsive Margaret, the cartographer's daughter, arrives seeking new adventures. She finds comfort in her friendship with Anu and a distraction in Tariq. Author Bradbury paints a solid and rich view of an important yet rarely explored period in young adult literature. The characters are complex and each voice is distinct and well written; Tariq, Anu, and Margaret are flawed in their own ways, yet entirely likable. As their relationships develop and solidify, the characters develop too. The novel is clearly well researched and provides a fascinating alternative for fans of Ruta Sepetys. This story is memorable and authentic. Reviewer: Jane Gov
Kirkus Reviews
India, 1947: As Britain prepares to divide the country before leaving, three lives unexpectedly intersect. The partition of India and Pakistan, based on a border drawn by British civil servants, rarely appears in Western literature, much less fiction for teens. Bradbury pens a careful, respectful--but fictionalized--account of the final days before the line between the countries was announced, recounting it in the voices of three teens. Impulsive, spoiled English Margaret may not be entirely likable, but her love for the strange country she finds herself in is wholly believable and makes her the perfect stand-in for the reader; through Margaret, India in this specific time comes to life, and hard questions about British culpability are asked. Much of Margaret's complex relationship with India plays out through her growing friendship with Sikh Anupreet, who has been caught in the violence between Sikhs and Muslims already, and Muslim Tariq, who hopes Margaret's father will be his ticket to Oxford since "[e]veryone listens to the men who have the right education from the right places." Through Tariq's and Anu's voices additional complexities and context are provided. Bradbury's research (detailed in an author's note) infuses but never overwhelms the narrative; the lack of solid resolution for the characters suits a book about a violent and confusing time. Historical fiction that brings its history to bloody, poignant life: rare and notable. (glossary) (Historical fiction. 14 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416983026
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 6/25/2013
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 233,947
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • File size: 5 MB

Meet the Author

Jennifer Bradbury is the author of A Moment Comes, Wrapped, and her debut novel, Shift. Shift—which Kirkus Reviews gave a starred review, calling it “fresh, absorbing, compelling”—was picked as an ALA and a School Library Journal Best Book for Young Adults and is also on numerous state reading lists. A former English teacher and one-day Jeopardy! champ, she lives with her family in Burlington, Washington.
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Read an Excerpt

A Moment Comes


  • “I know you will make us proud, Tariq,” Master Ahmed calls out to me as I step onto the dusty sidewalk outside the school gates.

I lift my palm to my face, fingertips to my forehead, bow. “Khuda hafiz.”

“And may He guard you as well,” Master Ahmed replies. “Give my best to your parents.”

“Shukriya.”

I speed up as I round the corner with its scrubby cricket pitch. It seems like longer than a year has passed since I sat for my examinations, since I enrolled at the college. Doing nothing has a way of slowing time. The college shut down after the professors got scared and quit teaching, when both the school and the faculty became easy targets for the Sikh mobs. And with no school, with nothing changing but the way people all over Punjab seem to have gone crazy, I’ve felt stuck. Trapped, even.

But now. Now there is hope.

My hand sneaks into my pocket, just to make sure the slip of paper is still there. I have already memorized the number of the house on Mani Margh, the time of my appointment with this Darnsley man, the few details about the job. I don’t need the paper anymore. All the same, I like knowing it’s there, like a railway ticket. Proof that I have someplace to be.

Someplace other than Abbu’s shops, selling gold and stones.

And maybe, just maybe, someplace other than India altogether.

This Mr. Darnsley must have gone to Oxford. Why else would this chance come?

I walk half a mile, rubbing the paper like some kind of talisman, my mind racing ahead to how hard I’ll work to impress this Englishman. It’s perfect, really, the timing of it all. I’m so lost in my thoughts that I don’t notice the crowd of men running up the lane behind me until they overtake and surround me.

I let go of the paper and brace myself for a fight before I see the men are Muslim, most of them around my age. A few wear prayer caps, but there is not a pagri on the head of any of them, and all have hair cropped close like mine. My hands uncurl.

They are not interested in me. Let them pass.

But then one stops a few yards ahead, turns around. “Tariq!”

My hands clench.

“Sameer,” I say. Sameer. There’s always trouble when Sameer turns up. Even when we were at school together, he had a way of finding trouble, of drawing me into it.

He fights the current of the men, grabs my arm, and pulls me into the flow.

“What’s going on?”

“What do you think?” he asks, smiling. He is a little winded. The mob is keeping up a quick pace. There must be twenty or thirty men here.

Up ahead, two of them break off from the pack, dash over to a market stall, and snatch up armfuls of cricket bats. They’re already back in step before the shopkeeper even has a chance to say anything. Not that he would. Not that any of the people in the shops would. They have all stopped to watch.

Someone near the front begins the chant. “Pa-ki-stan Zin-da-bad.”

The stolen bats begin to filter through the mob, still keeping pace. Sameer hands one to me before taking one for himself.

My gut turns inside out, hollow. I look around for some way to get myself out of here.

“Pa-ki-stan Zin-da-bad.”

“I have to get home!” I yell so Sameer can hear me over the chanting.

His face goes hard. “No you don’t, brother.”

The fellow on Sameer’s other side, a giant of a man, with a heavy beard that makes him look even more threatening, leans around to give me a look. A look that dares me to say I need to go home again. I shut my mouth.

I don’t know where we’re going, or what we’re going to do when we get there, apart from the fact that it will be not be good. I’ve been careful so far. Managed to avoid getting caught up in any of this violence. Allah’s teeth! Why today of all days?

Even if I could sneak away, I’m as worried about what Sameer will think of me—what he might say about me—as I am about getting hurt in some brawling.

This is no time to let loyalties be suspected.

Some of the men with bats in their hands have taken to beating the tips against the ground in time with the chant. “Pa-ki-stan Zin-da-bad.”

The lane widens, empties into a little cuanka. Across the way, moving in from the other street, another mob is moving in. Bigger than ours.

My grip tightens, and I realize that this is it. I’m going to have to go through with this, just to survive.

But instead of clashing with the other mob, they take up our chant and we merge together, angling south across the square, which is empty now.

“Pa-ki-stan Zin-da-bad.” Some fifty voices chant together.

We are heading for the gurdwara, I realize.

The Sikh temple is not the only one in Jalandhar. It is not the biggest or grandest, either. A single small dome squats in the center of the roof, topped with the gilt khanda, the crossed swords glinting in the morning light. It is nothing fancy compared to the dozens of gurdwaras in town.

But it is the only one that has no outer wall to protect it.

There are still people inside. I can hear the prayers spilling out the windows.

No . . . no . . . I can’t do this.

“Pa-ki-stan Zin-da-bad.”

I can’t . . .

“Ready?” Sameer presses close and asks me.

No. I don’t want to be here. I can’t be here.

But I manage to nod, even though I know I look as scared as I feel.

Sameer leans around, forces me to look at him as we slow up. He lifts an eyebrow, shakes his head. The same shake he used to give me when we were kids and I wouldn’t take him up on a dare.

But he doesn’t have time to say anything. The mob abandons the chant and rushes at the whitewashed sides of the building, screaming.

And it begins.

The building is burning before I even see that some of the men have been carrying cans of petrol. But there are people still in there! Maybe kids. Maybe women.

It all happens too fast.

Rocks sail through the windows; glass shatters inward. Rags soaked in oil and set alight find their way through the holes. But the people inside—

It’s a nightmare come to life.

I don’t know what to do.

Sameer is gone, joining the attack. I should run now.

Sikh men begin to pour from the building, chased out by the smoke. But as soon as they step outside, someone is there to make sure they don’t get far.

The bodies begin to pile up at the entrance without even making it to the street.

There’s nothing I can do to stop it. I don’t know how to begin to stop it.

The only thing I can do is run before I have to do anything to hurt any of them.

I don’t see Sameer. If I go now, he’d never know.

But I’ve barely taken a step when movement to my right catches my eye. A man, his white pagri already black with smoke, launches himself from one of the broken windows on the ground floor. The fight is centered toward the front of the building. No one is there to meet him when he comes out.

But then he sees me. Me, standing there with a cricket bat outside his temple.

He screams, brandishing a kirpan, the little sword flashing silver in the sunlight.

He rushes at me, the knife tracking straight for my chest. I freeze, but I have to move. Move! Maybe I could knock it from his hand, knock him off balance, give myself time to get away. But what if I miss? What if my timing is off? But I have to try. So I lunge forward, swinging the bat like I have in matches a thousand times before. I swing as hard as I can for his arm. But to my horror I realize he’s moving too fast. . . . I’m going to miss his hand . . . and I can’t stop.

The end of the bat catches him square on the chin. Blood spits from his mouth as his head snaps sharply back.

He drops at my feet, the knife falling from his slack hand.

I can’t move for a second, the impact of the bat jarring through me like an aftershock, the crack of his jaw echoing in my ears. But I am still standing.

The man is completely still. Allah, please, no . . .

He lies facedown in the dirt, blood running from his mouth and chin. No, no, no. I can’t have killed him. Can’t have. I only meant to keep him from killing me. I didn’t mean to—

My stomach retches, and I bend forward, heave into the dirt. My hands are covered with a spray of blood—his blood. I get sick again.

Maybe he isn’t dead, I tell myself. Maybe he’ll wake up later. He would’ve killed me. And as I think it, I realize someone still might.

I straighten, look up quickly, and ready the bat in case someone else is coming at me. There are bodies all over the courtyard. A pile of them blocks off the front entrance, and the mob I came with has spread itself out, picking off the others coming out the windows now. I don’t see any women. Or children. I don’t know if it means they’re all still trapped inside, or if they just weren’t here today. I hope, I pray it’s the latter.

Just then Sameer sprints by with a couple of other men on their way to the back of the gurdwara, where more must be trying to escape. He catches my eye, glances down at the body at my feet, the bat in my hand, and raises his own bat in salute. He gestures for me to follow before disappearing around the side of the building.

But I don’t. I throw the bat down next to the man I hit—the man who hasn’t moved, hasn’t even stirred. Then I turn and run.

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